Despite the fact that only an estimated 10 percent of Ghana’s population has a banking account, the banking sector is known to be extremely well-developed. Although well-developed, banks in Ghana may not have the same level of efficiency if compared to banks in the U.S. or the U.K. You may encounter some human error, so do insist that your issues are addressed properly, but always remember to be patient with the bank employees.
Ghana’s banking sector
The central bank, the Bank of Ghana, is responsible for the implementation of all monetary policies. Besides the Bank of Ghana, there are also commercial banks, development banks, merchant banks and rural unit banks.
Setting up a bank account
Most banks in Ghana offer services, to both citizens and expats, for current/checking and savings accounts, letters of credit and loans.
It is advised to exchange your money and set up your bank account as soon as you have arrived in Ghana. This is so you will have easy access to your cash at all times, especially since the bank will issue you an ATM (debit) card.
In general, it is a fairly simple process to open an bank account in Ghana. The process usually only consists of filling out a form and submitting the appropriate documentation. In most cases, to open a personal account, the only documentation required is a form of identification, such as a passport. Although, sometimes more documentation will be requested, such as a second form of identification, proof of residence, a letter of introduction from your banking institution in your home country, a reference letter from an account-holder of the bank to which you are applying in Ghana and/or a letter of reference from your employer.
Because it is suggested to open a bank account right away, keep in mind that some banks will even open an account for you before you have proof of residence or employment, although this will require that you provide a six-month statement from your bank at home.
As English is the official language in Ghana, all bank business will be conducted in English.
Commercial banks in Ghana operate on a Monday through Friday schedule, and usually open at 8:30 am and close around 4:30 to 5 pm, with the exception of closing at 3 pm on Fridays. Certain banks, such as The Prestige Centers of Barclays, will also be open on Saturday mornings.
Most banks in Ghana provide services such as Internet and telephone banking. Internet banking, in particular, has become increasingly popular, as banks feel they must offer this service to satisfy their customers, compete with other banks and contribute to the infrastructure of the Internet.
The issuance of credit cards in Ghana is a fairly new concept, the first being the Ecobank Visa Gold Cedi Credit Card in 2007. A Paypal account is best for online purchases. If you feel that it will be absolutely necessary to have a credit card in Ghana, you may want to apply in your home country before you leave - just be sure that it is a Visa or Mastercard.
Interest rate on loans
Be aware that interest rates on loans in Ghana are extremely high due to the fact that inflation continues to be an on-going problem. If looking to obtain a loan in Ghana, expect to pay at least 20 percent APR.
Salary in foreign currency
If your salary will be in a foreign currency during your stay in Ghana, is it advised that you set up an offshore account with a major bank. Chances are that if you deposit your foreign currency directly into a local bank, you may have to deal with some major complications withdrawing it as a foreign currency upon departure.